Journey To Minimalism
Moving to Switzerland has really solidified my journey into minimalism. It all started a year ago, when I noticed myself inadvertently taking out a full bag of trash every two days. For a household of two, I soon realized that we produced a lot of unnecessary and avoidable waste. Aside from polluting the environment, taking the garbage for a 5 minute walk to the neighborhood trash container is not exactly what I would call a fun and wholesome activity. I began to shift my mindset from simply reducing the things I needed (I was already a big fan of this) to refusing the things I did not need. This is what made moving to Switzerland a piece of cake.
We Accumulate Because We Cannot Refuse
2 sets of kitchen utensils, 2 pressure cookers, 3 pairs of yoga pants all given to me as gifts, my beloved (but unnecessary) collection of perfumes, and the list goes on and on. The kitchen items – we had accumulated from friends moving and giving away their own. I think we humans have some kind of affinity for collecting items. We collect because we feel bad about refusing. We collect because we don’t like to see things to go waste. “No! Don’t throw away that kettle! I’ll take it!” And that is how we end up with a house full of things.
We Accumulate Out Of Convenience
We also collect in a different way – we collect things that help us out with our lives – we collect convenience. We have a pack of 24 paper towels in our pantry because it’s much more convenient to wipe the counters with them than with cloth towels. It’s much more convenient to buy in large quantities, especially during a sale, or so we think. We’ll purchase 4 shampoo bottles because they’re on a “buy-3-get-1-free” promotion. We think “if I buy 4 now, I won’t need to go to the store as often later.” It’s convenient.
What Then Shall We Chose – Weight or Lightness?
The effect that collecting has had on me is it’s grounded and confined me to certain places, whether it’s my family home, my home, my office, etc., and made it extremely difficult and time-consuming to get up and go when needed. I decided that for moving to Switzerland, my life would work out best if it was light. One of my favorite quotes is by my favorite author of all time, Milan Kundera:
“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground…The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
Fitting My Life Into Two Suitcases
I wanted to consciously move my life from collecting and accumulating things that tied me down to living minimally, not for minimalism’s sake, but for the sake of lightness; for the sake of floating out of the confines and even comforts of your space when you see fit.
I sold what I could and donated the rest. I sold my car, the extra pressure cooker, the KitchenAid mixer, and many of the things that I was not able to refuse before. I sold everything that was convenient, until I was left with just the bare minimum. If you’ve read Marie Kondo’s book, I was left with the things that “sparked joy.” My linen shirts. A Guerlain eyeshadow compact encased in latticed silver metal. My favorite perfumes. Only the necessities of my skincare routine (5 items). Ok, so I’m not a complete minimalist, but I’ve been able to narrow down what do I need and refuse what I do not need so that I can live the life of lightness I had been striving for.
Moving to Switzerland was the perfect catalyst for packing my life into 2 suitcases. The airport was a dream: I checked both bags and floated through with a small duffel, inside which I placed my purse, electronics and documents. No industrial size shipping containers required. Easy, breezy, beautiful minimal girl.